HIV/AIDS in Young Adult Literature - A Bibliography

HIV/AIDS in Young Adult Literature
a (non exhaustive) bibliography
(all summaries from Goodreads unless specified)

Last updated 13/11/2010

Night Kites, M. E. Kerr (1986)
Erick knows the family code: Family is first. Toe the line. Fit in. At Seaville High his life is tame, predictable--hanging out with his girlfriend, Dill, and his pal Jack. Then Erick falls in love with Nicki Marr. Nicki's sort of scary. She's 17 going on 25. Every word she says, every move she makes, seems seductive--and aimed right at Erick. But she's Jack's girl... isn't she?

Two Weeks With The Queen, Morris Gleitzman (1990)
Part of the "Cascades" series offering hardback novels to be explored in the classroom, this is the funny and moving account of a boy's quest to save his brother. Colin decides to take the problem of his brother's cancer to the most important person he knows - the Queen.

The Arizona Kid, Ron Koertge (1988)
From the moment sixteen-year-old Billy steps off the train in Tucson, he knows this will be a summer unlike any he's seen in small-town Bradleyville, Missouri. For starters, he's staying with his cool gay uncle, who has managed to get him a job at the racetrack caring for horses. Still, Billy doesn't expect the horseracing world to be quite as rough and tumble as this — toiling side by side with a macho survivalist and falling hard for the feisty, romance-shy "exercise girl" Cara Mae. With his trademark fast-paced dialogue filled with wit and compassion, Ron Koertge tells the tale of an insecure teen who discovers that gaining stature involves more than Stetsons and boots — and that lessons on love and manhood come from the places you least expect.

Diving For The Moon, Lee F. Bantle (1995)
Learning that her best friend, Josh, is HIV-positive due to a tainted blood transfusion, young Bird is devastated by the news, especially when she realizes that she has deeper feelings for Josh.

Goodbye Tomorrow, Gloria Miklowitz (1987)
A high school junior who has received two blood transfusions finds out he has the AIDS virus, though not the disease, and finds all his relationships changing--with his friends, his girlfriend, and even his family.

Laura Leonora's First, Miriam Cohen (1990)
Seventh-grader Laura finds that she must determine what her own true beliefs are in the face of widespread community opposition to admitting a boy with AIDS to her school. (

Eagle Kite, Paula Fox (1995)
When Liam was 10 he smashed and buried the eagle kite his father had given to him. It was the morning he saw his father with someone. Liam has kept that memory hidden for three years. Now, his mother tells him his father is sick from a blood transfusion. But Liam knows the truth. His father has AIDS and he has moved to live alone in a cabin by the beach. An ALA Notable Book for Children. A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. A Booklist's Editor's Choice.

Earthshine, Theresa Nelson (1994)
Here is 12-year-old Slim's heartwrenching story about the last months of her father's life as he battles AIDS, and Isaiah's mother, who also has AIDS. "Nelson's sensitive portrayals of the three members of the McGranahan household draw the reader into this story . . . this social issue, brought painfully home, is what gives the story its amazing power."--The Horn Book. An ALA Notable Book. An ALA Best Book of the Year. A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

My Brother Has AIDS, Deborah Davis (1994)
When her brother Jack, who is suffering from AIDS, comes home to die, Lacy finds that her own life is irrevocably transformed as she struggles with prejudice, grief, and alienation.

Be Still My Heart, Patricia Hermes (1989)
High school sophomore, Allison, falls in love with David who is dating her best friend Leslie. Their favorite teacher's husband has AIDS.

Baby Alicia Is Dying, Lurlene McDaniel (1993)
Desi thinks it's totally unfair that innocent baby Alicia was born HIV positive. Now the eight-month-old Alicia lives at Childcare because she was given away by her sick teenage mother. Desi can relate to feeling unloved. Her parents give her all the material things she needs, but there seems to be a wall between her mother and herself.
Working at Childcare has opened Desi's heart and allowed her to feel the love that she's been longing for. But Alicia is not her child and there is no cure for her condition. Can Desi cope with the harsh realities and still believe in love?

What You Don't Know Can Kill You, Fran Arrick (1992)
When thirteen-year-old Debra Geddes's older sister Ellen tests positive for HIV, the family faces the horrifying reality of the disease, a frustrating sense of powerlessness, and the hostile reaction of the community.

It Happened To Nancy, Beatrice Sparks (1994)
It Happened To Nancy: By An Anonymous Teenager, A True Story From Her Diary. Diary entries of an anonymous 14-year-old girl who was date raped, became infected with the HIV virus and subsequently died. Includes a question and answer section about rape and AIDS.

Chanda's Secrets, Allan Stratton (2004)
Like any girl, sixteen-year-old Chanda Kabelo has secrets. She is determined to be loyal to her rebellious friend Esther, she wories about passing her exams, and she wishes she didn't have to spend so much time listening to her Mama chat with their nosy neighbour Mrs Tafa. But one secret threatens to silence everything. All around her people are dying, and everyone is afraid to say why. But Chanda knows: it's because of AIDS. Chanda's Secrets is th tense and deeply moving story of one girl's struggle to rescue the people she loves from a tragedy that is destroying her world.

The Beat Goes On, Adele Minchin (2001)
At fifteen shy Leyla looks up to her sixteen-year-old cousin, Emma. Beautiful, confident, and popular with boys, Emma seems to have it all. But when Emma learns that she's HIV positive after having unprotected sex just once, Leyla must be the strong one. Supporting her cousin through all the changes, even teaching music to kids in Emma's support group, Leyla promises to keep it all a secret. But when Leyla's gorgeous new boyfriend thinks condoms are optional, and Emma's health begins to decline, Leyla realizes people will never be safe unless they are aware. Will she find the courage to speak out and make people understand?

Playing With Fire, Henning Mankell (2002)
Sofia has lost her legs and her sister in a landmine accident. But now she's growing up and ready to fall in love. Her older sister Rosa is strong and beautiful and loves dancing. Sofia will never be able to dance, so how will anyone ever notice her enough to love her? She imagines a boy who will love her for herself, and then she meets him - but is the Moonboy real, or just a dream of the African night? Then Rosa falls sick with a mysterious illness and Sofia fears the worst. When Rosa is diagnosed with HIV and turns to African magic for a cure, Sofia is the one who has to be practical and think of the future.

Soul Love, Lynda Waterhouse (2009)
Living with the past can be difficult, even at fifteen...

Jenna doesn't want to betray her friends and won't reveal the truth behind her exclusion from school. So she is sent away to live with her aunt in a sleepy countryside village.
It's here that she meets Gabriel, who seems so genuine and different from other people she knows. But she is wary of him at first - lately boys have been nothing but trouble for Jenna, and Gabe can be moody and withdrawn.
Despite her caution, Jenna can't help falling in love with Gabriel, and the longer she spends with him, the more deeply in love she falls. Could he be her soul mate? He seems to be the only one who understands Jenna and doesn't leap to conclusions. But then she discovers that Gabriel is living with a deep secret of his own... (

Positively, Courtney Sheinmel (2009)
An unforgettable novel about a girl struggling with HIV, from powerhouse middle-grade author Courtney Sheinmel.

Fade To Black, Alex Flinn (2005)
Three perspectives -- one truth

The victim: After his windshield was shattered with a baseball bat, HIV-positive Alex Crusan ducked under the steering wheel. But he knows what he saw. Now he must decide what he wants to tell.
The witness: Daria Bickell never lies. So if she told the police she saw Clinton Cole do it, she must have. But did she really?
The suspect: Clinton was seen in the vicinity of the crime that morning. And sure, he has problems with Alex. But he'd never do something like this. Would he?

Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, Frederick Peeters (1998)
Young and highly acclaimed Swiss comics artist Frederik Peeters makes his UK debut with BLUE PILLS, an intimate, poetic and accessible black-and-white graphic memoir very much in the tradition of works by Marjane Satrapi, Craig Thompson and Alison Bechdel. A deeply moving and universal love story about how we face, and overcome, adversity in our everyday lives—told through the story of Peeters' relationship with his girlfriend, Cati, and her three-year-old son, both of whom are HIV positive—BLUE PILLS is sure to capture the attention of those memoir fans and comics readers hungry for the next great new work in this emerging genre. One summer night at a teenage house party, Fred met Cati.Though they barely spoke, he vividly remembers her gracefulness juxtaposed with a wonderful, wild abandon. They meet again at a New Year's Party in 1999, and this time their connection is instantaneous. A few weeks later, when it looks like things might get serious, a very nervous Cati tells him that she and her three-year-old son are both HIV positive. With great beauty and economy, Peeters’ traces the development of their emotional and sexual intimacy. The silver lining in their lives is the wonderful, down-to-earth doctor whose affection and frankness allow them to confront their fears about sex and fully realize their passionate connection. But when Cati’s son gets sick and they have to administer a gruelling treatment (including the blue pills of the title), Fred comes face to face with death. His questions about life, love and illness are played out in a Socratic dialogue with a (very wise) mammoth who ultimately helps him to recognize that living with illness is also a gift; it has freed him to savour his life with Cati. BLUE PILLS explores a daunting and difficult subject in a way that is refreshingly honest, moving and revelatory. Peeters, while writing specifically about HIV, has also given us a nuanced and deeply personal story that will resonate with anyone who is intimately acquainted with any kind of illness—and all of us who have chosen to love in the face of challenges. From Amazon.

Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss and What I Learned, Judd Winnick (2000)
Pedro Zamora changed lives.When the HIV-positive AIDS educator appeared on MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco, he taught millions of viewers about being gay and living with AIDS. Pedro’s roommate on the show was Judd Winick, who created Pedro and Me to honor Pedro Zamora, his friend and teacher and an unforgettable human being. First published in 2000, Pedro and Me was a graphic novel pioneer. Its moving portrait of friendship and its urgent message have already reached thousands of people. Now, Pedro’s story is reintroduced to today’s graphically focused culture with a gorgeous, eye-catching new cover and a foreword from Judd. From Amazon.
You can read the first pages on Amazon (here)


  1. Great list! I'm definitely using it!
    It's not the most fantastic graphic novel I've ever read (see "Fun Home" for that!) or the most fantastic HIV related book undoubtedly - but Judd Winnick's "Pedro and Me" probably deserves a mention here. (the guys from MTV). Also although not YA persay another graphic novel F. Peeters "Blue Pills: A Love Story."

  2. This is a great list Caroline :o) The only other one I found is Abela by Berlie Doherty. I'll be reviewing that one tomorrow & Soul Love and Playing With Fire later this week

  3. So I love above written, you know, I think, it is made in a accurate manner, because people must make out the truth!